We’re finally here. You’re sixteen. Since you were born I dreaded this day. It’s meaning is simple. You are no longer a child. To you, this is probably a relief. You’re excited to finally be considered “grown up”. I remember when I turned 16. It was a long time ago. The feeling I remember more than most was being afraid, maybe even a little sad. It’s different for everyone. Whatever you’re feeling, try to remember it. Not how the day went or how great or not-so-great somethings are in your life right now. Remember who you are and how you feel. For the rest of your life you’ll compare this time to wherever you are in your life at the time. When you get to my age you will still try hard to remember who you are at this moment. I try to remember all the time. Your entire life will be a collection of memories and the ones you’re making now are more important that you’ll be able to understand right now.
You and I haven’t gotten along so well in recent years. I did expect that. It’s part of the stage you and I are in. It will pass. Right now you may be thinking I don’t like you, that you annoy me and that I am hard on you sometimes. There will be a few more years like that and for that I am sorry. You’ll see soon enough that being your Dad meant I couldn’t be your friend right now. I don’t always do things you agree with and I won’t always make the right decisions, but I am doing the best I know how to do. I have a job to do and that job is to protect you and to try an prepare you for what the world you’ll soon have to be a part of. That job is sometimes confusing and it’s not always easy to know the difference between protecting and preparing.
I don’t have a lot to give you. You weren’t born into a family with wealth or powerful connections. I can’t surprise you with a new car are something huge that will impress your friends. What I can give you is my love and my commitment to getting you through however I can. For a few years that will mean some yelling at times, my not liking your boyfriends, my hating your not coming home for long periods of time, my dissatisfaction with occasionally less than stellar grades and always doing your best. You will probably hate me sometimes, not want to say good night or good morning, not want to call me. I expect all of that because I was your age once. What I need you to understand is I will always be your Dad and I will always love you. I hate that you’re sixteen today because the little girl that used to think I knew everything and that I was the master of the universe is gone. It’s ok, though. I’m proud of you, regardless of what you might think. You’re a lot smarter than you think (you are “my” child, afterall ;-). You are beautiful (and I find that dangerous). You are my daughter. Happy Sixteenth Birthday. I love you.